Alan & Sharon Finifrock

Alan and Sharon Finifrock, Carlton which is just south of Duluth, have a long history of being connected to their land. They currently own or manage seven 40’s in two separate parcels in Carlton County. Both parcels are former Finifrock farm land. One is in the Nemadji River Watershed near Moose Lake and the other is in the Kettle River Watershed on Bear Lake, near Barnum. The Nemadji property, which is on the south short of ancient Lake Nemadji, was acquired by Alan’s parents in 1934.

Alan has a deep respect for and interest in learning from natural resource professionals and other woodland owners. In 1997 he completed the Woodland Advisor training program. Alan’s interest in caring for the woodland started as a young child, when he recalls standing on the last 5 foot diameter white pine stump on his Nemadji property. Alan began planting trees on an old hayfield with his parents in 1951.

Tree planting became an annual event marked by weekends of work and camping on the property. Since 1951, Al and his family have planted more than 30,000 trees on the properties, most by hand. The majority of the plantings were of red pine and white spruce with about 10% white pine in later years. Some were to reforest and create windbreaks around old fields and pasture land.

The Nemadji property was first enrolled as a Tree Farm in 1967. Alan became aware of the Tree Farm program and felt that by joining he would be able to continue his learning. He has the original Tree Farm certificate framed. The Nemadji property was the site of the Woodbury Sawmill, remnants of which can still be found. These include a 5 foot depression in the ground, probably a cellar, and a water line used to bring water to the steam powered mill from the Nemadji Creek. The logs sawn at the mill were mostly white pine. These were cut into dimensional lumber and transported by horse and sleigh to the rail siding at Nemadji for use in building Superior Wisconsin.

Some of the pines planted in 1951 and 1964 are ready for harvest. Chris Boor from Bell Timber visited Alan’s property on December 10, 2013 to discuss a timber sale. While no contract has been signed yet, Al dreams of doing the logging himself with a John Deere tractor and a Farmi Winch. Doing the harvesting himself will require hard work which will bring back memories, help keep him connected to the land, and increase the profit of the sale.

Tree Farming for Alan has been a lifelong avocation that has brought many insights, rewards, and rekindled many good memories.